October 10, 2015
Unlike chronological Bibles that divide up the chapters of each book, The Message 100 Bible keeps the books intact but arranged in the most likely time sequence then divides them into 100 sections to help us get grounded in each biblical time, place, and culture. Or, as the cover explains, this edition gives us “the story of God in sequence.”
Published by Tyndale House, who kindly sent me a free copy for review, this edition provides an excellent option for youth and people somewhat interested in the Bible, but also Bible students who want to feel themselves as present and part of God’s Word. Not only do the 100 sections aid that experience, so does the highly accessible text, paraphrased by Bible teacher-pastor-author Eugene H. Peterson.
In the interesting Foreword by Bono, the musician says he “discovered Eugene Peterson’s The Message through the Psalms. In the dressing room before a show, we would read them as a band, then walk out into areas and stadiums, the words igniting us, inspiring us,” which is exactly the effect we pray the Bible has on each of us as we read.
In his “Preface to the Reader,” Rev. Peterson says, “The Message is a reading Bible. It is not intended to replace the excellent study Bibles that are available. My intent here… is simply to get people reading it who don’t know that the Bible is read-able at all, at least by them, and to get people who long ago lost interest in the Bible to read it again.”
Before we study, before we write sermons or devotionals, before we even try to live in a manner fitting for God’s people, we first must know what the Bible says. As the “Introduction to the Message” puts it:
“There will be time enough for study later on. But first, it is important simply to read, leisurely and thoughtfully. We need to get a feel for the way these stories and songs, these prayers and conversations, these sermons and visions, invite us into this large, large world in which the invisible God is behind and involved in everything visible and illuminates what it means to live here – really live, not just get across the street.”
Lord willing, regularly reading the Bible will help us to do that and more in Jesus’ Name.
© 2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, reviewer and lifelong lover of the Bible, is also a poet-author of Bible-based poems and books in all genres.
The Message 100, paperback
July 19, 2014
As a lifelong lover of the Bible, I’ve read many reader’s editions and many, many study Bibles that helped me to learn a lot about God and God’s Family. Thankfully, that family includes me – and you. However, on the “Welcome” page of Today’s Light Devotional Bible, Jane Fryar reminds us that God is “not so much interested in your learning facts about Him, though that’s certainly part of the process. The holy, all-powerful, infinitely gracious God of the universe wants to reveal Himself to you. To you!”
Isn’t that awesome! Okay, so we live in an era where people call almost everything “awesome,” but God’s Word of love to us truly is!
As I read the review copy of this edition of the English Standard Version (ESV) that Concordia published and kindly sent to me, I wished I'd had it when I first began reading and studying the Bible as a preteen with little clue about what I was reading! Insightful comments by Jane Fryar remedy that situation by providing brief commentaries to help us “Get the Big Picture” then “Sharpen the Focus” for each book and most of the chapters in the Bible.
Those ongoing insights make this edition especially recommended for teens, young adults, and newcomers to the Bible. And, all of us will find a helpful layout throughout the text that correlates with the three checklists at the back of the book meant to guide our choices of a one-year reading plan, a two-year plan, or (what I'd like to try next) a plan to read the Bible chronologically.
But, what about the welcoming word that says the “God of the universe wants to reveal Himself to you”? How does Jane Fryar go about getting this across?
The examples extend beyond the space I have here, but to start at the beginning, “Get the Big Picture” says: “Genesis records many firsts – the first people, the first family, the first sin, the first city, the first musician, and more first besides. Today’s reading [One Year (Week 1, Monday) Genesis 1:1-3:24; Two Year (Week 1, Monday) Genesis 1:1-2:25] zeroes in on the first week of our world’s existence and on the first home God gave His human creatures. As you read, note the care God took as He made this home for us – the first paradise.”
Think about it! God gave everything we needed to live in paradise from the beginning of time, rather than the end. Knowing this about God is good to know, of course, but more importantly, good to ponder and sink into our spirits. Then, as this edition encourages us to do, we, too, can "...see God’s power, creativity, wisdom, and tender concern for His human creatures – His children.” Yes, that’s you; yes, me.
© 2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, reviewer, is a traditionally published author of 26 books in all genres, including two poetry books, the Bible-basedOutside Eden and environmentally-oriented Living in the Nature Poem that encourages us to be good caretakers of the earth as God intended.
Today’s Light Devotional Bible, hardcover